The Cost of Faking It Till You Make It

How far would you go to impress someone? Nur Sorfina shares how we lose our uniqueness when we fake ourselves.

What’s your aim in life? 

If seeking happiness is the answer to your life’s purpose, then I suggest you rethink it. Why? I thought happiness would make my life more meaningful and while it’s okay to constantly search for happiness in life, we need to question if we’re doing it the right way.

We live in a world where we often fake our personalities or character to impress others. Our own degree of happiness is often set by others — a mindset that society forces us to live with. We think that it’s okay to sometimes fake ourselves because it helps us to achieve what we want without realising what’s at stake. 

Let me paint some scenarios for you:

Scenario 1: To fit with the popular ones, sometimes ‘Mean Girls’, you pretend to be snobbish and egoistic. 

What you’d get: An increase in popularity with people giving their full attention to you. 

What you’d sacrifice: Your humble and genuine personality that makes you a lovable person.

Scenario 2: You boast to recruiters by telling fake stories about yourself and all the good things in your life during the interview.

What you’d get: You’d be noticed among recruiters and industry leaders — perhaps even getting fast tracked for any job application process.

What you’d sacrifice: Your vulnerability and willingness to be open to the recruiters — a criteria that they also assess.

Scenario 3: You’re not acting like your usual self (often a case of ‘too good to be true’) when with your partner. 

What you’d get: Your partner would probably fall deeply in love with you and you’d, sooner or later, be accepted by their family. 

What you’d sacrifice: Being comfortable in showing your true self as a partner, and possible life partner, for years to come.

Above are the sample scenarios that you may have experienced or will experience in the future. You’ll notice that there are certain things that you’ll have to sacrifice when faking yourselves to impress others.

So, Why Do We Do It?

Simple, the sacrifices that we’re willing to endure for the rest of our life have been successfully blinded by the great things that we’ll get. If other living beings were able to think and speak like us, they’d probably say, “Humans are so greedy and ungrateful for what they have, always wanting more and more.”

Indeed, it’s a solid fact

One of the major reasons that we often fake ourselves is due to overthinking. We tend to overthink and care about what others perceive about us rather than how we think of ourselves as a person.

The Cost of Faking It Till You Make It

We’ve believed that happiness is often determined by someone else aside from us. While it’s human nature to care about what others think about us, it’s important to have boundaries so that it doesn’t pose any danger to ourselves.

A Neuroscience research in 2013 found that when we obtain positive social feedback about ourselves, it activates the reward centre in our brain that makes us feel good and happy. And once we realise this, we’d often change our behaviour or even fake ourselves so we can have those positive experiences in our lives that could activate the reward centre again.

In reality, the desire to have a positive experience is, in fact, a negative experience. 

This is similar to the application of the ‘backwards law’ by the philosopher Alan Watts. Nicely summed up in the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, ‘the more you pursue feeling better at all times, the less satisfied you become’ or ‘the more you desperately want to be loved and happy, the lonelier you’ll become regardless of who surrounds you.’

The Painful Price to Pay

Giving too much care and attention to others' perception of us will slowly kill us from the inside. We tend to be conscious of our behaviors or characters to ensure that we don’t show our vulnerability to others. If we constantly live like this throughout our life, we’ll be mentally drained as you feel exhausted from being someone else. 

Eventually, as we fake our personality, we’d forget who we are and what our identity is. At some point, we’ll start detaching ourselves from society and isolate ourselves in our own nest with endless blames.

Why did I do this in the first place? Why can’t I just be myself? Why am I so afraid to be imperfect around others? 

The self-blame will engulf our life with darkness and toxicity will infest in our minds — a perfect example of emotional abuse and we’ve only ourselves to blame.

In the end, we’d feel guilty for every silly mistake we’ve made that we even begin to feel guilty about how guilty we’re feeling! Sounds familiar to you? Another theory introduced by Mark Mason as The Feedback Loop of Hell’.

Remember, it’s okay to experience it as it’s part of our human nature but we must be cautious to avoid it becoming a borderline epidemic making us overly stressed or establish self-loathing tendencies leading to negative impacts in our mental health condition.

How to Overcome It?

Looking at the price we’ve to bear, do you still desire to fake your own personality? Are you willing to sacrifice yourself or identity to people who may or may not notice you?

Well, here’s your wake up call to stop before it’s too late!

And if you’ve lived with this kind of guilt, leave the past in the past. Though the journey may be tough and more painful than before, it’s worth the change for a better future ahead. It is just a matter of time, effort, and commitment.

Here are 3 steps to get started:

The Cost of Faking It Till You Make It

1. Learn to accept your imperfections

Nothing is perfect. We tend to forget this as we imagine a perfect life with no ups and downs, imperfections, or challenges which actually makes our lives all the more meaningful. These imperfections help us to discover our strength, uniqueness, and motivations. Never be ashamed of your own imperfections. Embrace it and improve it. When we’ve finally accepted our own flaws, we’ll be more comfortable with being vulnerable to others and ourselves.

2. Avoid letting others set your standard of happiness

Your happiness is in your hands not others! Never ever let anyone determine your happiness. If you do, then it’d never be enough for you and you’d end up chasing others for your own happiness. Remember, you’re the only person who knows what will make you happy. When we apply this principle, we’ll start practising self-love more frequently and being less fake to ourselves. 

3. Filter the people that surrounds us with positivity

It’s important to be mindful of who we let into our lives. As you get to know a person’s character better, you’d be able to identify people who may be faking themselves. While we should accept them for who they are, remember that you should surround yourself with genuine people to avoid falling back into the cycle of faking yourself.

While we shouldn’t fake ourselves for the sake of others, that’s not to say we shouldn’t completely disregard the thoughts of others.

Sometimes we’d need to take into account others’ perceptions as it helps us develop a great sense of empathy towards others. Empathy is the foundation of emotional intelligence (EQ) that gives us a sense of humanity. However, we shouldn’t let it affect us to the point where we’re faking our personality and forgetting who we are. By simply being ourselves, we can ease our path in getting what we want and need. 

At the end of it all, remember to be yourself, embrace your imperfections, and turn them into your strengths.

If you need someone to talk to or seek emotional support, you’re welcomed to join Taylor’s Connect bi-weekly ‘Honest Hours & Heart 2 Heart’ session with our Peer Supporters.

Nur Sorfina completed her Bachelor of Business (Honours) Banking & Finance at Taylor’s University in July 2021. She is the Director of Public Relations of Taylor’s Connect and currently interning as an IT Advisor at KPMG Malaysia.